ArtCentral: Me, The ‘Other’

What would it be like to live in a town where every house looked exactly the same (color, shape, landscaping)? What if there was only flavor of ice cream (mocha!), and no rainbow sprinkles? Without variety, this world would be a very boring and unhappy place!

Variety differentiates one from another; the differences define us. We internalize differences – positive and negative – and our individual experiences collect to form a certain set of assumptions and pre-judgements. We each use these assumptions and pre-judgements as we evaluate the world around us; they guide us with magnetic force.

But, ‘otherness’ is never one thing. It is not just skin color, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, place of birth, physical appearance, economic status, life experience, ability, or disability. The feeling of being ‘other’ is a common human experience that we all share. 

Some ‘otherness’ is external; some it is internal. For many, we do not know of the internal ‘otherness’ until she or he is willing to share this vulnerable place of the soul. The experience of otherness often comes in unexpected places.

These unique characteristics and experiences are what make us each an extraordinary, beautiful, individuals. These differences are the qualities to be celebrated! 

We gathered 12 individuals from the Spearfish community to be a part of a temporary photography exhibit currently installed at the Matthews Art Gallery. A collection of portraits, taken by Alison Murphy (BHSU photography student), accompanied by autobiographical statements, tells a story of our community where we all share the human experience of being an ‘other.’ 

By seeking to understand the individual through her and his story, experiences, struggles and accomplishments, we find parts of ourselves in each of them. We create a platform for conversation about the things that connect us, rather than keep us apart. Through this project, we aim to increase the awareness and appreciation of the differences in our world and reduce the apprehension that surrounds ‘otherness’ in our community.

The photography exhibit is inspired by the first film in our (free!) Film Festival: Season Two. ‘Me, The Other’ is screening on Sept. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Matthews Opera House. It is a documentary film directed by Shidan Majidi and tells the stories of a diverse cast and through their stories, we find that our ‘otherness’ unites more than it divides.

The second film, ‘The Rider’ will be shown on Oct. 16. Our third film on Nov. 13 is ‘The Homestretch’. The final film ‘Dakota 38’ will show on Nov. 27. All films are free and will be shown at The Matthews in the theater at 6:30pm. No tickets are required, and we hope that you will come join us in viewing and discussing these wonderful films. The Film Festival: Season Two is co-sponsored by the Northern Black Hills Rotary Club.

Elizabeth Freer is the ArtCentral manager at Matthews Opera House. ArtCentral is a community collaboration, funded by a 2016 Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant, to centralize the arts as an integrated asset for inclusivity, economic development, and outreach in Spearfish. As a community-based project, feedback and suggestions, as well as volunteers, are welcomed. Please contact if interested in volunteering or have suggestions.

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